Now that I have come to the end of Drawing 2, when I look at the final pieces I’ve made, I barely recognise my own work. I decided from the outset that I would push myself during this course. Being my first level 2 course, I knew it would be very different from what I’d experienced before. Prior to studying with OCA, I had very little experience of contemporary art, particularly Installation. When I was researching Cornelia Parker’s Poison and Antidote drawing, I thought at first, it made no difference what medium she used to draw with; it was the visual image at the end that was important. Now I am at the end of the course and my opinion is the complete opposite, hence the subject matter of my Critical Review; the Artist as a Recorder.
It wasn’t an over night change for me; it has been more gradual. The research in the course work prompted me to look at artists I would never have known about, like Martin Werner, Janice Kerbel and Steven Campbell. It taught me there is an infinite number of ways to make art.
The projects pushed me into trying some of these ways for myself. Some were familiar, such as the observational drawing in Part 1, mark making and composition, but many I found very difficult to do, such as the drawing with a machine, using found images, interacting with the environment and my nemesis; installation. In addition, I had to relearn academic writing and referencing.
I think looking at the Parallel Project highlights the process I went through from the start of the course to the end. I began by making observational drawings, initially portraits of the staff, then graduated to drawing the office environment. Using my new way of looking at every day things, my attention was drawn to the grey dots on the privacy panels, and I thought about repetition and pattern, and the way in which they are used to protect someone’s privacy, and this eventually lead to me finding a way portray the experiences of the people. By developing a new way of seeing and recording, added to the encouragement from my tutor, I was brave enough to attempt to express these experiences in an authentic way. It was very daunting showing other people this work, and I was so out of my comfort zone, but I believe it has paid off.
I think the turning point for me came at Part 4, when completing the project on interacting with the environment. I read the instructions and literally made images using material from the environment, such as leaves and twigs etc. I had stalled at this point, lacking confidence in my choices, and eventually decided I would just need to do something, rather than hesitate any longer. I contacted my tutor Bryan, and showed him the images, expressing my disappointment in the outcome. I told him about the groundwork I was doing for the parallel project, and how capturing my experiences at work had caught my interest. He suggested focussing on this area and I decided to outline some hypothetical interactions I could make at work. I enjoyed doing this; it caught my imagination, I had fun with it and added humour. I also enjoyed the new experience of making art by writing. This made me realise for myself, how you make art, what you use, what you do with it, what you want the outcome to be, these are all up to the artist to decide. There is no definitive guide and there is no one out there to tell you want to do, it’s all up to you.
With this experimentation has come understanding; it helps to to understand the process and the concept, and looking at and researching other artists help you do this.
Although apprehensive, eventually I realised that the only way to learn is to embrace the challenges. If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.
In addition, the OCA Study visit to the Turner Prize I participated in, couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous time. Whilst I may not personally have appreciated seeing fur jackets sewn on to tubular chairs, because of the research I had already undertaken, I was able to understand Nicole Werner’s concept. This again, reinstated my new-found discovery that art can be; a choir singing, an environmental project, a library, or indeed fur jackets from Ebay stitched onto chairs.
Looking back, I found Drawing 2 to be a very difficult course to complete, but definitely worthwhile. In addition, I feel I have been very fortunate in having Bryan Eccleshall as my tutor. He was most encouraging, and gave me the confidence to try new things, and his own work as a practicing artist was inspirational.
My local art group enjoyed watching me drawing the Time and the Viewer piece so much, we gave it a name Autobiographic, and three other members have since made their own.
It has helped me to develop a new way of looking at every day things. I can look at something objectively, see it as a shape, a series of lines or composition, I’m curious when I see areas of grass or carpet worn by constant tread of people. Or marks left by repeated activity, or ephemera left lying around in a particular way. I would never previously have noticed these things, or associated them with making or appreciating art.
The course also helped me develop problem solving skills, in so much that it forced me to think about alternative ways to make marks. For example the Collography process I used on the Parallel project artists book, my experimentation with the use of Letraset to add text to a drawing, the use of bubble wrap to censor the personal details. And who could forget the drawing with an electric tooth brush!
More than ever, the artists books I made were a huge step forward for me. It was most enjoyable pointing out the idiocy of some of the rules at work. I found the parody of the rules and regulations cathartic. I enjoyed the writing part very much, and again, would never have contemplated this as ‘making art.’
This has given me a confidence I hope will stay with me as I continue on my Painting Degree Pathway